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Saving Your Body From Burnout -Learning to do Massage as a Tai Chi.
The basics of  Tai Chi are integrated into massage technique. This allows the body to flow with energy and avoid burnout. This has allowed me to do up to 10 hours of massage in a day and carry on my practice in health for over 25 years.
This workshop is a small introduction to all of the other workshops I will present.

Healing the Cervical Spine –
It is true that most headaches come from the occipital region of the neck. While there are other issues involved with headache, such as acidity from the stomach, structurally, the Occiput is a great place to start.  Entrenched spasms push on the nerve supply creating irritation which ultimately translates into severe headaches and/or migraines. In addition to trigger point techniques that reduce specific spasms, you will learn other techniques that help realign the cervical spine. Craniosacral  work and a specific physical therapy technique will be taught to address subluxations and other problems of the neck. Be clear that this is not chiropractic work, but is much closer to my physical therapy training.

Lumbar Spine- Healing Low-Back Pain.
Low-back pain seems to be the bane of civilized existence. There are 2 areas that I will specifically address, both in identifying the problem and developing a treatment plan. Sciatic pain has a number of contributing factors that need to be addressed therapeutically once you understand the biomechanics that contribute to your clients problem you will be better equipped to help. In addition to sciatic pain we will specifically address the problems associated with the sacral-iliac joint. There is a small bursal sac that is often inflamed which needs to be treated to reduce and alleviate pain. Kryo massage or cold therapy massage is an important technique that addresses bursal inflammation and other types of inflammation pain, and will be explained in detail. .
Postural Analysis and Mini- Massage Demonstration -
A great way to introduce your clients to a better understanding of their bodies and your work is to create a workshop where you offer postural analysis and a mini-massage. Helping people to better understand how their simple movements contribute to their physical problems on a daily basis,  allows you to help them gain a better understanding of how to heal. He is massaged to show the connection between tight muscles and biomechanical dysfunction that leads to pain and other problems. This is a great tool to help people better understand themselves and your work.

As Go The Feet - So Goes The Body. Understanding the Bio-Mechanics of Walk.

This workshop is a MUST for people who want to save their clients from unnecessary pain and misery. By understanding the bio-mechanical problems of your clients and instructing them how to correct their walk, you can prevent a great deal of future pain and body dysfunction. Once you start viewing the impact of HOW a client walks on the entire structure, you will have a better idea on how to focus your session. Learn the problems associated with tight IT bands and more, (If you read that as IT bands instead of knowing I was referring to the Iliotibial tract, then this course Is for YOU!)
Again, my preference is to cluster the courses so I am not having to travel back and forth, ( again, any help with transpoation willl be appreciated!)

Chronic Pain - Managing The Unmanageable - Part I

Chronic muscle pain is an extraordinary problem that demands a comprehensive approach for a successful outcome. Most of this article will be devoted to understanding the complexity of treating chronic pain. At the conclusion is a proposal for helping the victims of chronic pain. Though the proposal only represents the initial baby steps to organize a chronic pain group, it is helpful to remember that all journeys begin with the first step.

Muscle pain can be categorized as transitory and chronic. Transitory pain is produced by recent minor trauma and resolves fairly quickly with treatment. Recent examples in my massage practice include a week-end golfer who strained her muscles by playing 72 holes after a long hiatus from the links. Another client suffered neck and lower back pain after being rear-ended in a slow-speed car collision. Many tourists drive long hours non-stop to hurry up and get their vacations started. They arrive completely locked up in pain, and need relief before they ever get to step foot on the beach. With each of these clients, pain relief was immediate and complete after one session BECAUSE the problem was not compounded, but addressed at the first sign of pain.

When pain is endured on a daily basis over a protracted period of time, it affects people physically, spiritually and psychologically. Treating the entire human paradigm is necessary for success. I call it “tissues and issues”. Common sources of chronic muscle pain include fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, herniated disks and joint problems.

Chronic pain clients report their pain reaching into almost every aspect of their lives, overshadowing their happiness and dominating their concerns. As a therapist, it is heartbreaking to hear their stories. I recently treated a woman that suffered from multiple, debilitating conditions. She was vacationing with her husband and extended family, and called me to come treat her in her villa as quickly as possible. She was miserable. When we started to work, she confided how little sympathy or support she received from her husband and mother-in-law. She was expected to help clean and generally pull her weight, even though she was in severe pain from fybromyalgia and osteoporosis. She was not taken seriously and was given very little support from her family. She was ridiculed and accused of slacking off. It seemed clear that her emotional environment was contributing to her existing pain. During the vacation she ended up in the emergency room with a kidney stone, but even that did not keep her family from demanding that she help clean the house. Clearly, this woman’s pain was exacerbated by the lack of support from her family. It is totally predictable that recovery will be difficult unless she finds a way to help her family understand her needs. I suggested she try to get help from a therapist, group or another, more enlightened family member.

Often, I share my own struggles with chronic pain, as I have a herniated lumbar disk and a knee that was ruined by bad surgery. When if seems appropriate, I try to share my experiences to reassure my clients that they are not alone, and that I understand their suffering. That seems to bring solace.


Chronic Pain - Managing The Unmanageable - Part II

It is not enough to treat the body and neglect the mind and soul. Successful treatment must address all concerns. A pain pill can only address the physical aspect of pain. In fact, people often get into trouble with addiction because they try to manage the psychological and spiritual dimensions of their pain with drugs alone. Pain medication has a strong psychological effect, and patients often get into trouble because they try to medicate the psychic pain that accompanies their physical pain. Good pain management successfully addresses all aspects of suffering.

Chronic pain changes the sufferer spiritually and psychologically for many reasons. The most obvious effect is that it leaves the sufferer feeling isolated. Dr. Jung, the noted psychologist, used the description “feeling orphaned by our pain” to describe the sense of loneliness that can accompany pain. That sense of abandonment can manifest depression and spiritual ennui. While a pill or a potion may help quiet the physical pain, it often takes the intervention of other people who care and understand to help assuage the spiritual and psychological suffering that can accompany chronic pain. Sadly our medical community often relies too heavily on medications alone to treat chronic pain. While medications may be helpful or necessary, often the pills alone don’t heal pain, or help people to manage the untreated pain. Support groups can provide the important missing part of the formula that allows people to cope with chronic pain.

Pain is not a useless inconvenience. It serves a very important purpose. Pain’s function is to call attention to a physical problem. Without pain, we would have no way of telling when there was a problem with our body. It is nature’s way of getting our attention. When people are in pain, they need to become somewhat self-centered and self-absorbed, so they can attend to their problems. It is only by paying attention to the pain that it can be resolved. With chronic pain sufferers, that self-centered focus often creates distance between the sufferer and other people, leading to a sense of isolation. The best way to break the bondage of chronic pain is to destroy the isolation by creating a caring community that can support and help heal the sufferer. I believe that the most important first step to healing is replacing isolation with involvement.

Chronic pain sufferers often have trouble coping with the fears surrounding their debilitation. Pain can create many problems in a person’s life, especially if the pain interferes with the ability to work, or manage the responsibilities of parenting. Often many of the problems do not have an obvious, immediate solution, and must be endured. Harboring concerns about difficult situations and the accompanying fears without the opportunity to emotionally ventilate can create extreme psychological stress, leading to anxiety and depression. Often this stress will exacerbate the pain, creating a downward spiral. Without proper intervention and in the most desperate, extreme cases, people can contemplate self-harm, and sometimes commit suicide.

If isolation is at the core of suffering with chronic pain, then connection with other people is the obvious key to coping. Bill Wilson found that groups were fundamental in helping alcoholics recover from alcoholism and so he founded Alcoholics Anonymous. (In addition, he also introduced a 12 Step Program of recovery, but having a group and helping others was the core concept.) Many other groups have been started to help people coping with similar concerns find the support they need to keep going.

There are many support groups available in communities today that could provide a bridge away from your isolation. Reach out to national organizations that might offer support that relates to your personal areas of concerns. There are national organizations that have groups for people suffering from diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia. And the list goes on. If there is no local group, you might want to think about starting one. It does not have to be an elaborate affair. Just a small group of caring people that get together to share. Integrating yourself into the fabric of your community will heal many hurts. I know because the group process saved my life many times, and I will forever be grateful .

Jan Rose Kasmir is a medically trained massage therapist with over 30 years of experience in the field of health. She currently practices massage therapy in Hilton Head, Bluffton and other close-lying cities in South Carolina.


Massage: A Treat or a Treatment by Jan Rose Kasmir
Originally Featured in "The Island Packet"

Bette Davis said, "Growing old ain’t for sissies." Those bodily aches and pains that make aging a misery, respond wonderfully to the healing touch of massage. But that is only the beginning of the story about the health properties of massage.

Massage, a natural therapy, is an effective way to reduce and/or alleviate muscular aches and pain. Muscle tightness, known as spasms, are the primary source of chronic, physical pain not associated with trauma. To better understand the role muscles play in causing bodily pain, it is important to understand why and how we hurt.

Muscles do not hurt.  Nerves are the pain messengers, sending signals to the brain to alert the mind that there is a problem.  When a nerve becomes irritated by tight muscles, the nerve heats up. (the early surgeons felt the heat radiating from the irritated nerve and called the condition inflamed.)
This alerts the brain that there is a problem in a part of the body by producing pain.  

Medical massage works by stretching the muscles to restore them to their original length and width.  This takes the pressure off the nerve, allowing it to cool down.  Consequently, the problem is resolved and the pain messages are discontinued. 

These principals are a simplified explanation of the  anatomy of pain. Understanding these principles will shed light on the role of massage in alleviating physical pain.

Natural healing methods are more time consuming and take a greater commitment then many people are willing to make. Why take the time and bother when a person can just pop a pain pill, and feel relief?  The answer is simple.  Pain is not the problem.  Pain is a SYMPTOM alerting the mind to the fact that THERE IS A PROBLEM.  Removing the pain without addressing the problem only masks the true nature of the problem.  Often when medication alone is used, there comes a time when that problem overcomes the medication’s ability to stop the pain. As time passes, what may have started as an easily treated condition can become a complex, more serious problem, with a much more difficult treatment prognosis.

It is important to clarify that massage works best in conjunction with the diversity of medical and health offerings. Good massage therapists are trained to recognize their limits, and ONLY treat conditions within their range of competency. When client' need help beyond the expertise massage therapy offers, then it is their duty to refer those people to the proper therapist or physician.

Massage is a conservative, and minimally invasive therapy, that can produce wonderful results with people who suffer from chronic muscular pain, and more. Massage has shown beneficial results with a broad range of problems including fibromyalgia, low back pain, arthritis, and bursitis.  Other conditions that have responded positively to massage include fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, and immunity suppression. Sickness is not the only realm where massage is gaining popularity.  Infant massage and massage for pregnant women are examples of rapidly growing health therapies.

Massage is gaining respect in the medical community in this country. Many physicians are beginning to understand and prescribe massage for their patients.  Even the US government  has recognized the importance of natural therapies by forming the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of

Health.  For example, locally, the use of oxygen in high concentrations, (hyperbarics), is now being offered as therapy for a wide range of ailments, and one cannot find anything more natural than oxygen.

So, is massage a luxury, self-indulgent pampering, or a therapy that treats a wide range of medical problems? The answer is simple. Yes.

Jan Rose Kasmir is a graduate of the New York College of Health professionals, with over 20 years of experience. In addition to her in-home service, Massage Therapy Associates, she practices at Dr. Kenneth Farr’s, The Island Spa, MD.

Understanding Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy techniques are varied in both style and goals. The therapeutic goals of all massage techniques are similar: reduce stress, create a deep relaxation, reduce or remove pain and restore physical function and a sense of well-being. What all of these therapies have in common is that the therapist uses natural forces created by the skilled use of their hands, and sometimes feet, to heal and help their clients. Massage is not strictly defined, though, it differs from other therapeutic techniques, collectively referred to as “Body Work”. It would be difficult to define the distinction, but this article divides the techniques into three divisions: Western and Eastern Massage, (the focus of this article), and Body Work, such as Feldenkrais, Cranial Sacral and Energy Work. Generally, these therapies can share many of the same goals as massage, though the techniques are very different, and in the case of Energy Work, there may be little or no physical contact between practitioner and client.

Massage techniques can be divided into two categories: Western/European and Eastern/Oriental Massage. The primary focus of Western Massage is to improve the physical structure by resolving spasms and general tightness which cause pain and/or problems with muscle function. This is accomplished with hands that are lightly lubricated with oils or creams. The amount of pressure that is exerted through touch starts light, increases as the muscles warm up, and finishes light. Western techniques include the use of long strokes, (Swedish/European), applied pressure, (Trigger point), gentle rocking motions (Tragar), vibration and subtle variations of these movements. Many techniques are shared with the different styles of massage. The primary goal is to restore the body to its original structure, consequently reducing or eliminating pain and restoring loss of range of motion.

Eastern Massage also values structural and functional restoration, but achieves these goals very differently. The simplest explanation is that optimal health is achieved by balancing the body’s Chi or energy which flow through 12 channels or meridians. Oriental medicine believes energy channels exist throughout the body managing all aspects of health, and that disease and dysfunction come from an imbalance of the energy that flows through these channels. A great book that explains these concepts that totally foreign to Western medicine is The Web Has No Weaver, by Ted Kaptchuk.

One big difference with the Eastern Massage experience is that the client does not disrobe, rather the work is performed over the clothing. In Western Massage, the client disrobes, and is covered by a sheet or towel. Only the body part that is massaged is exposed.

Within the 2 major divisions of Western and Eastern Massage, there are a number of different techniques. The most popular techniques in Western massage include Swedish, Sports, NeuroMuscular, MyoFascial, Trigger Point and Tragar. Mention must be made of the term “Deep Tissue”., which indicates heavy pressure that will affect the deep muscles. One of the biggest criticisms of the field today is that some people selling massage seem not to exert themselves, which leaves the client achieving little or no gains from the treatment. It is not actually considered a technique, but indicates that the therapist is willing to work hard!

A quick mention of one very different technique that involves to tables, no oils, and in fact is performed in water, deserves mention – Aquassage, (Aqua Massage).

Aquassage is a very exciting massage technique performed while the therapist and client are immersed in water together. The water’s buoyancy allows the therapist to take control of the client’s body, using the client’s mass to achieve which deep stretching and structural re-alignment. This therapy should only be performed by specially trained therapists.

Eastern Massage techniques include a long list including Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Lomi Lomi and more. Two very popular techniques should provide a feel for these types of therapy.

AMMA is considered the oldest form of massage. AMMA means “push – pull” in Chinese, because the energy in the clients’ body is moved around from places on the body that have high energy body to the energy-starved areas of the body in order to create harmony and health. The client does not disrobe, but lies on a table or sits in a massage chair while the therapist employs circular hand motions. The therapist also uses fingers, thumbs, elbows, forearms, knees, and elbows to manipulate the body tissues.

Reflexology is a therapy that primarily focuses on treating the hands and feet. In Oriental medicine, it is believed that certain parts of the body represent microcosms of the whole being: hands, feet, tongue, earlobes and irises. reflexology maps out the hands and feet to represent the entire body, and the works on the areas that correlate with the areas of complaint. Stomach is represented in the arch of the foot, and the therapist would treat stomach problems by going in with deep, focused pressure into the arches. Like all Eastern medicine, the focus is on the balance of energy in the person. Acupressure utilizes the same understanding of the body as Acupuncture, but instead of employing needles to manipulate energy, the hands are used to apply pressure and stimulation to the body. The fingers press points on the body to release muscle tension and stimulate the flow of energy to help promote health and healing. The interrupted flow of Chi is thought to create disharmony and disease. A headache can be defined as caused by too much energy to the head. Treatment would stimulate the tissues at the feet to draw the energy down, away from the head. As the head became calmer, and devoid of excess energy, the headache would disappear.

There are many massage techniques and should you wish to further explore in depth, you can Google “Massage Techniques”, which will deliver a range of responses that can help you expand your understanding. If you have ANY questions, or would like more information on a specific technique, PLEASE contact me through my website on the appointment page. Please feel free to share you experiences as well!

Making The Most of Your Vacation

You have had a rough year. The economy has ground you down! Or, maybe things have not been that bad. No matter. You are on vacation, and you now have THE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

One of the most important health rituals we have is to take a break from our daily routine, and treat our body and mind to FUN AND RELAXATION – VACATION TIME! We know that if we do not do proper maintenance on our cars, then our car will break down. But what about maintenance on ourselves? It is true that we are all starting to take better care of ourselves. We are starting to eat better, and exercise more. BUT, WHAT ABOUT RELAXATION AS A REQUIREMENT FOR PERFECT HEALTH?

As a massage therapist, I have witnessed the effects of stress on people for over 25 years. There is no doubt in my mind that stress is kerosene on the fire. We do not seem to take rest and rejuvenation as an important part of our emotional AND physical health. We all seem to want to look good, and except in the case of extreme duress, we don’t seem to make the connection between a calm inner life and a beautiful appearance. So, I want to pass on some tips for getting the most relaxation out of your vacation.

§ START your time with a massage. Don’t wait until the end of your vacation to squeeze one in. Get right in, and a great massage will set the tone for the rest of your time.

§ Start your morning with a few minutes of quiet, diaphragmatic breathing. (Diaphragmatic breathing is accomplished by laying your hand on your stomach, and pushing it up when you inhale. Try not to move your shoulders.) While you are breathing, just listen to your body. See if you can tune into where you are holding stress, and use your breath to help relax yourself. Do not hyperventilate, that is, if you start to feel light-headed, then just let your breath return to a normal pattern. You may be surprised to find that you are “clenching” parts of your body. That is, you holding on to stress. LET IT GO!

§ Take a hot bath with a cup of Epsom Salts. If you have a soothing aroma therapy like lavender or chamomile, then so much the better! Make it a special ritual by lighting a candle. Come on! You know you never take the time for yourself when you are rushing around at home. MAKE THIS TIME SPECIAL!

§ Take a long beach walk. The crashing waves generate negative ions, a type of energy that is revitalizing. You WILL feel energized by the experience.

§ Take a moonlit walk on the beach. Many believe the moon has the power to enhance your psychic and spiritual energy. See if you can tune into the magic.

§ Spend some time making art. Artistic creation is a beautiful way to express yourself. Many people find that making art is a wonderful way to de-stress. If you have never taken the time to explore your talents, start with something easy, like drawing. You only need a pad of unlined paper and pencils, charcoal or even Sharpies. Try drawing something meaningful - a tribute to a wonderful vacation. Modeling clay will allow you to construct something wonderful AND exercise your hands. Great for people who suffer from arthritis!

§ Start a diary. There is no better way to pay attention to yourself then writing about events and feelings. If you are struggling with your weight, keep a food diary. This will help you get a handle on your eating. If you are joining other people during your vacation, spending a little time focusing on your feelings by writing is a good way to keep you from feeling overwhelmed or lost. (Sometimes the crush of having a vacation with many friends and family can leave you feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed.) Writing can give you a healthy vent for any difficulties. It can also be a way to document and celebrate the wonderful times!

§ OF MOST IMPORTANCE! Be sure to make happy plans, but leave time TO DO NOTHING! Sometimes we can make ourselves so busy, we become a human doing, and forget we are a human BEING! Don’t feel you have to fill every minute with an activity. As a Guru once said, “Don’t just do something, sit there!”

And please don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes. Often I hear woman make excuses for the torturous shoes because they feel they must look appropriate for the work place. Well, there are NO excuses now. GIVE YOUR FEET A VACATION TOO!

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